AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity is unlikely to start next month as planned, after prosecutors said on Tuesday they did not object to a delay.
Fellow African leaders have urged Kenyatta not to attend the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which they accuse of unfairly targeting Africans and of violating Kenyan sovereignty.
Kenyatta stands accused of orchestrating a wave of violence after 2007 elections in which some 1,200 died. His deputy William Ruto, a former political rival, faces similar charges. Ruto’s trial began last month.
The case is seen as a test of the credibility of the decade-old court, which must tread a fine line in making its writ run without fuelling calls for Kenya to repudiate the court.
Defense lawyers last week asked for the original start date of November 12 to be dropped, saying Kenyatta needed the delay in part to give Kenyatta time to deal with the aftermath of the September attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Kenya’s capital.
While judges have the final say, they are unlikely to refuse a further postponement to the much-delayed trial if both the prosecution and the Defense ask for it.
But Fergal Gaynor, the lawyer representing victims of the post-election violence, said more delay would cause “disappointment and frustration” for victims.
“We owe it to the many women who were raped, to the families of those killed with such shocking and senseless brutality, and to the children who suffer until this day ... to redouble our commitment to justice,” he said.
The case against Kenyatta has suffered a series of blows over the past year as prosecution witnesses withdrew their testimony. Prosecutors said a delay would give them time to secure the attendance of “replacement witnesses”.
Reporting by Thomas Escritt; editing by Andrew Roche